Monday Morning Stepback: Hello Goodbye edition

The weekly news, links and opinion post

I. What’s up on this here blog:

As regular readers know, I have been dealing with a Russian hacker for about 10 days now. Esosoft tells me it was a sophisticated hack, in which I take some elitist comfort. The lesson for me is not to use any plugins that are not in continuous development, as they are easy targets for hackers. I deleted almost all of my plugins, and am adding them back one at a time. So there may be some reduced functionality this week for readers. I am sorry about that. Thank you for bearing with me.

On the plus side, I decided to turn my angry feelings about Russia into something more positive by digging out old photos of my undergrad trip to the former Soviet Union. Here’s me, twenty one years ago, at The Hermitage in St. Petersburg (then Leningrad).

Not bad for 1989, but I think my coat should be bigger

On ReadReactReview this week:

I am very excited about the week coming up. Tuesday is an interview with Rosario, of Rosario’s Reading Journal, which went live in 2002. Rosario talks about her romance reading past and present, her love of Nora Roberts, and changes in the genre and in the online romance community.

Wednesday, I will have a report on a discussion with my friend Elizabeth, who is finishing her dissertation on sensation novels of the nineteenth century.

Next, I review An Unwilling Bride, by Jo Beverly, whose heroine is a “follower of Mary Wollstonecraft”.

I hope to have a comment on Ron Hogan’s talk on ethics and professionalism in blogging at last week’s Book Bloggers Convention. Hogan recently left his new position as director of e-marketing strategy at Houghton Mifflin .

And — maybe — Part 3 of my series on Ethical Criticism of Genre Fiction (Part 1 and Part 2).

II. Links of Interest (even more stale than usual, as I missed last week’s Stepback post)

It’s a big day in Romanceland as Harlequin’s new e imprint, Carina Press opens for business with a 20% off all books promotion. Click here for a list of launch books.

My Friend Amy has announced the third annual Book Blogger Appreciation Week, September 13-17 2010. After last year’s controversy over the awards, on Tuesday there will be a special That’s How I Blog to go over the new rules. Amy says there are all new categories. I am crossing my fingers for an “I Would Have Written Less If I Had More Time” category, for which I am a shoe in.

I was flabbergasted by the tour the book bloggers at BEA got of some NY publishing houses. Here is Natasha of Maw Books’ report, complete with drool worthy pictures. I think the next RomCon needs to be held in Toronto. Either that, or I am going to have to start reviewing general fiction.

Jenre of Well Read Reviews is closing up shop. We’ll miss you!

When one door of happiness closes another opens. Keishon of AvidbookReader is starting up a new mystery blog.

Editorial Anonymous interviews Adam Rex, author of the forthcoming Fat Vampire. Here’s Rex on his inspirations:

ADAM REX: That’s the gist of what got me started. A big part of the fantasy of vampirism, of course, is the wish-fulfillment of being frozen at the peak of your existence. At the moment we seem to have agreed as a culture that everyone should want to be a teenager again. But, while being a teen had its charms, I actually think I’m a lot happier now. I’m certainly a better person now than I was in high school.

I have to say the impetus for this book actually came when I misread a banner ad. I was in the middle of my morning web-crawl when I saw an ad for some manga or webcomic or something called My Dork Embrace. And I thought, That’s great. I bet it’s a story about the kind of awkward guy who’s never supposed to become a vampire. And a minute later my brain wouldn’t let go of it because the art and tenor of the ad didn’t really jive with the assumption I’d made, so I scrolled back to have another look at it. And I discovered it’s really just My Dark Embrace. I’d misread it. But then I got excited because that meant I could write My Dork Embrace myself, and it would be a good framework to work out some thoughts I’d been having about high school.

At On Fiction, a post on Blogging as Renaissance-Style Correspondence:

Until I read Johan Huizinga’s biography of Erasmus, I had not realized that, before the coming of print culture which Erasmus was one of the first to use, although people would address handwritten letters to particular people they often intended them to be read more widely. Alongside formal readings at churches and synagogues, and lectures in universities, and before the emergence of magazines and newspapers, letters were means by which ideas could circulate. People would pass them around.

At the guardian Books Blog, Literature’s Great Sister Acts. Apparently, psychologists have used literary sisters are source material since so few studies of women were done until the 1970s.

A meditation on genre-bending at the Bradford Bunch, by Kelly Jamieson, whose book Lost and Found was rejected for not being one thing or another (it has found a home at Samhain Press).

At Critical Mass, notes on the future of book reviewing, based on a National Book Critics Circle panel “in a BookExpo America session that registered fewer sparks than the one in 2009”:

After Reed and Kellogg enthused over the possibilities for rich interactivity in ebooks, Travers added a cautionary note. “It all depends on the writer,” she said. “I’m supposed to be — boo-yah — for digital books. But think how bad the DVD extras are on so many movies.”

In such a fluid reviewing environment, Reed asked about the “delineation between content and advertising. Is it Armageddon? Can anyone retain their integrity? Or maybe establish a new integrity?”

As a rule, Nawotka asserted, is not going to be circulating negative reviews. And authors are increasingly popping up in on-line book conversation. Kellogg put it succinctly: “Is it pimping or is it journalism?”

And again on book reviewing, this time a Literary Saloon meditation prompted by The Death and Life of the Book Review, an article in The Nation online by book review editor John Palattella:

I see ‘serious book coverage’ in more expansive terms than Palattella does — and, in fact, I think this point has been made often enough by now: the online scene, in all its variations (yes, ranging even to that ‘Daily Beast’), now contributes — at least in the English-speaking world — as much to the larger (and especially the many smaller) literary debates as the print media does. But maybe it hasn’t been said often enough: Palattella, for one, seems, quite honestly, to be if not clueless at least fairly oblivious.

And one more on book reviewing: It’s All Over but the Reviewing: Self-Publishing Edition from AuthorScoop. This is a brief recommendation of editor Jane Smith’s The Self-Publishing Review, where “You send me a copy of your self-published book, and I’ll read it. If I like it I’ll review it here, and will be generous with my praise.”

Author Tracey Cooper-Posey on why Authors Shouldn’t Read Other Authors in their Genre

The accepted wisdom in the industry is that authors should read everything in their chosen genres, to keep up. I think this is excellent advice for beginners trying to break into the industry, and for a writer easing into a new genre or publisher.

But if we do this all the time for our established genres, then we would all start sounding almost the same as each other, with just shades of variation, because we’re all pulling from the same stewpot of ideas.

Another genre meditation, this time on the difference between romance and romantic elements at the Romance Junkies Blog.

From The New Yorker online, Spaying Your Laptop. Can you guess what that involves?

Slate on A New Kind of Drunkenness: the Greatness of Gin, which is, alas, not a permission slip to get soused as I type this post, but a fun review article on a few new books on alcohol.

Should we put hyperlinks at the end of our posts instead of the middle? GalleyCat considers this in the wake of Laura Miller’s experiment along those lines.

Sonya Chung at the Millions on Breaking Up With Books. She categorizes the books she failed to finish and why. My favorite is this one: “Books Written By Friends/Acquaintances That I May Have Been Destined Not to Like in the First Place, But Gave Them a Try For Friendship’s Sake.”


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